Fisheries Department warns public against eating the fish washing up on the South and East Coast

Fisheries Department warns public against eating the fish washing up on the South and East Coast

As a number of fish and shellfish wash up around the South and East Coast, the Fisheries Department has warned the public that consuming the dead animals may be harmful.

washed up fish

The Fisheries department has warned the public not to eat the animals. The fish seem to have died as a result of a marine heatwave which renders them poisonous.

“Some of the fish may have been dead longer than thought, some of the unfamiliar ones may be toxic and it is not clear yet whether the anomaly also resulted in ‘red tides’ or harmful algal blooms (HABS),” the department said.

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The department explains that the marine heatwave coincides with a very large Agulhas Current meander – an offshore deviation of the current causing the fish to wash up on shore over the past few days.

“The Agulhas Current meanders are associated with complex and drastic changes at the coast, with changes in temperature, ocean currents, water level and biochemistry of the water, subsequently leading to fish mortalities,” the department explained.

“During the earlier stages of the ‘marine heatwave’ reports were received of fish swimming away from warm water as well as of seaweed bleaching on parts of the coast. With cold water intrusion, fish and invertebrates (shellfish) suffered thermal shock (froze) with many lying stunned in the shallows, some too weak to avoid being washed out on the shore.”

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In February and March, the average temperatures were around 24°C throughout most of the South and East Coast.

The department adds that this is a rather irregular occurrence that takes place four to five times per year in the northern Agulhas Current system, but only once or twice a year near Gqeberha, as the upswelling weakens on its way south.

Image courtesy: Pexels

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